For people who suffer from seasonal or recurrent reactions to various triggers, allergy testing can be a crucial and necessary step in receiving appropriate treatment. Of course, this type of testing comes at a cost, and given the financial hardships of many people, that cost can sometimes be prohibitive.
The good news is that most of these types of tests are usually covered by health insurance, which keeps the costs reasonable. Even for patients who are not covered by insurance, there may be discounts available, as many doctors charge less to patients who pay by cash or credit card. The important point to remember is that you should never have to suffer unnecessarily with a runny nose, wheezing, coughing or other symptoms simply because of money problems.
Types of allergy tests
There are two main types of allergy tests: skin tests and blood tests. Each has its limitations and may not be appropriate for all individuals, but under the right circumstances, either can be a good tool for diagnosing allergies and their specific triggers. The cost of each test can vary depending on the number of specific triggers one is trying to isolate.
A skin test involves the use of a series of small injections, either on the surface of the skin or directly into the system. Because this type of testing exposes the patient to potential allergens, it can be dangerous for people with severe allergic reactions. It can also be counterproductive for patients with skin conditions such as eczema, which can mask the results.
In most cases, skin tests range from $60 to $300, depending on the number of specific triggers sought. For those who can tolerate a skin test, it is usually quick and results can be determined visually within minutes when the skin reacts.
A blood test, as the name implies, involves drawing blood and testing it to determine if the person has certain specific antibodies that make them susceptible to an allergic reaction. It takes longer, sometimes up to seven days, to get results, but because there is no direct exposure to possible triggers, it is much less likely to cause complications.
Blood tests, however, tend to be more expensive, typically ranging from $200 to $1,000, again depending on the number of specific triggers to be isolated. Blood tests are also safer for people who are on medication, so if you have another condition that requires you to take medication, you may want to consider going this route despite the higher cost.
Allergy Treatment Plan
Once you have determined what you are allergic to, you can develop a treatment plan. This means managing and treating the symptoms rather than the cause. There are many medications that can inhibit the release of histamine and other allergy-causing chemicals. They help relieve symptoms such as redness, itching, swelling and difficulty breathing.
You can change your environment and/or your daily routine to avoid allergens. You may also choose to use allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. It is considered a long-term treatment that reduces symptoms for many people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma or stinging insect allergy.
As always, talk to your doctor to make a plan.
While the cost of testing may seem daunting, it's always best to determine exactly what you're dealing with so you can treat it properly. If you choose to play the guessing game, the cost of treating your symptoms may be much higher than the one-time cost of testing.
I wish you the best of health.